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When someone thinks you are better friends than you do(27 Posts)
I have this friend, Lucy. I used to work with her years ago and still saw her after I left for another job because we had mutual friends.
I still see her regularly through the same circle of friends. She is a lovely girl, she always remembers my children's birthdays and I do like her.
The problem is, I think she has more invested in the friendship than I do. She's ten years younger than me, not married and has no children. Our lives are very different and (just as before I had children) she has no real understanding of how hard it is dealing with small kids.
The only thing we really have in common is our previous place of work.
She keeps inviting us to dinner or lunch. She lives 70 miles away, and as you can imagine, the logistics of us "popping over" with two small kids (aged 4 and 4 months) are a nightmare. My husband has nothing in common with either her or her fiance and finds it hard to make conversation with them.
So far I have managed to make excuses but I've run out of excuses and find myself having agreed to go there for Sunday lunch next week. To be honest, I really don't want to go and neither does DH, not because we don't like the couple but because it will take up DH's only day off that week.
She has a tendency to (1) sulk and (2) persevere when you say no (if you say it's not conveneient, she will keep suggesting alternative dates until you eventually have to give in).
I feel really stuck about this. I do honestly like Lucy and her fiance but I don't feel they are close friends and really don't want a 140 mile round trip for Sunday lunch with the two kids.
What to do?
try to find a way to be honest. you don't need to say, we aren't that close friends. but suggest things that you want to do. just have a catch up on email or the phone. meet for a coffee once in a while.
why doesn't she come to you?
say, its too far for us to come with two small children. if she doesn't understand then explain. you dont need to be nasty about how you dont feel close to her necessarily, but be truthful about why it isn't convenient for her. and if she sulks, let her. or say, i find it stressful when you sulk, or something along those lines.
you could encourage her to get things going in her own life if you feel like it, so she doesn't bug you so much.
Agree with just saying it's too far with young children. On the one hand you say she is a lovely girl and on the other that "we" don't like the couple. You need to decide how much you like her and want to spend time with her and if you aren't that bothered then just say no. You could always use some waffle about weekends being family time. If she has no kids it's going to be a boring day for your kids, fine if you and husband enjoy themselves but life's too short to spend a day doing something none of you like just to try and pretend to her you're a good friend.
Alison your story rings very true for me too. I have a friend who has always ben like this...I feel she 'chose me' if you like whne we were at uni to be friends, and she seemed nice enough and quite a fun character so we got to know each other. Thatw as over 10 years ago and I realy feel she is more friends with me than I her. She is a serial inviter too, with no regard to my life or circumstances and gets sulky when I decline, or keeps badgering me to find alternatives.
I dread her calls, in case it's another idea for a get together. The killing joke is, she lives abroad now! Yet comes home once or twice a year and even then I dread being 'summoned' to spend time with someone who is okay but realy not my cup of tea (over bearing, controlling, etc etc)
So now, I make sure I stand by what I want to do. And she will just have to live with it.
She texted me recently to say she was coming over and could she stay with me. I said no, it was best if she stayed in a hotel, and she was fine with that.(Or claimed to be! I may still get a 'rearranging' call so she actually gets what she wants)
You have to be equally bulldozerish (?) and firm with these people.
Can I share my perspective here because I have seen exactly this problem from both sides.
It was all very embarrasing when I realised that somebody I thought of as a fairly close friend only regarded me as very much on the outer edges of her social life. A mutual friend pointed it out to me and I was able to pull back, saving at least some face.
On the other side of the issue is somebody I worked with for some years. He did me some good favours, including job references, but he is much older than me and we have little in common any more. He writes me a weekly email and I feel I ought to respond even if it os only a few lines.
I think this happens quite often. You meet people, and they like you more than you like them, and they move in on you... Which is why I keep my distance, don't give out a mobile number and generally stay at arm's length from others.
I'd be shattered otherwise . I often am shattered! It's an act of self-preservation.
I know how you feel but the 'friend' in question only lives round the corner from me. She's a nice enough person but I don't really click with her. However, she's very keen for our children to play together and she's constantly ringing me to get together. If I say "no" to a suggestion she gets all passive aggressive and will keep on with alternatives until I give in. It makes me mad- I feel manipulated and yet I can't seem to find it in me to as be confrontational back when it comes to saying no. TBH, it probably is my fault- I'm giving her mixed messages but I don't want to be as cruel as to say I'm not interested in seeing her at all. If she finds out I've been doing things with other friends (some of whom she has in common and some not) then she takes the hump. It's a nightmare. I just hope she backs off when the children start school as they'll be going to different ones.
The mature, sensible approach is to let her know the truth, in a gentle way.
The cowardly, childish approach is to use the fact she doesn't have kids, and therefore probably lives in a tidy, calm household, to your advantage. Go for lunch and let your kids run riot. Maybe load them up on sweets and fruit shoots beforehand to get the full effect. Smile beatifically and talk about how important it is that your children are able to 'express' themselves. You'll never be invited anywhere by her again. Is that too evil?
I'm also on both sides of this problem- there are certain good friends of ours who we keep inviting here and it somehow never works- I am paranoid that they are not keen as I often instigate the lunches/ meals. TBH I had a friend years ago who didn't want to be my mate (and told me- she was 15 and I was 13 and it actually broke my heart) and I live with that hanging over me.
Equally though there are friends that I have that I'm not so bothered about keeping up with. I don't want to refuse them but equally don't always find them good company. I too have a Mum that thinks that she should be friends because our children get on but I think that she is a fanny- I always fob her off because I don't want anything to do with her and that has all become very awkward. But why should I be friends with someone I don't like just because they have decided I should be?
I think that the best thing to do is to tell her that the LOs are very hard work at the moment and you prefer not to travel with them unless totally necessary (eg the baby screams everytime you put it in the car) and that you will call her when DC is 'over' it. Tell her you're sorry but it's very difficult. This will stop the whole 'I don't want to be your friend' but and should give you some breathing space.
Good luck- not a fun position to be in.
140 miles for lunch!
Some of my friends didn't come to my wedding because of the distance and the fact that they had small children! And we are still very good pals - no hard feelings. I've since been to stay with them, at their request.
Sometimes, a little white lie can do the trick. I hate lies personally, but I also know that from experience, saying yes to everything causes unhappiness and lots of unnecessary stress. I would tell her that one of your children isn't well at all and the chances of you making it are very slim. Then the day before just confirm that child is still ill. You can't possibly make it.
One thing I've learnt in my very long and unusual life! is to do what makes you happy. There isn't enough time to be doing things to keep others happy. Think about what is important and gently get rid of what isn't.
Sounds harsh, but necessary.
I was also going to suggest you say one of the children is ill.
If the lunch is for today, ring now.
Just think how much less stressed you will feel when you don't have to go.
If she presses you for another date, say you are sorry, you have to go as X is crying.
Then get caller display...
If you can make the trip one weekend; combined with something else to do there then it could be a positive thing. Also, you should be a little flattering (even if annoying) that they are attracted to your family. This probably happens to a lesser degree in many relationships and part of what we have to negotiate in day to day friendships. Perhaps you could be straight and say it would be great to come over for lunch but DH has only one day off this weekend so could you plan it for some other time as it is a very long drive!
Hmmm.... I have to say I think the suggestions of 'little white lies' will only prolong the awkwardness.
I have lots of friends and am a 'serial inviter'. I love my home to be full of laughter and fun. This is probably to do with a bad upbringing, but we will save the pop psychology for another time.
I like to cook for friends, its a relatively cheap way of showing you care about somebody and getting to have a chat about whatever it is you have in common.
I have no kids but understand that it takes longer to get around when you do. But only because my friend told me when she first had kids. Your friend isn't a mind reader.
It really annoys me when someone says, 'oh I can't make that Saturday' and doesn't actually mean it. They mean, 'oh its a long way to come' or 'oh my husband doesn't really have much in common with yours' or 'there isn't anything for the kids to do there' or whatever. I wouldn't be offended if someone said any of those things to me. Its the lying and flakiness that really winds me up.
I like to think I have enough emotional intelligence to figure out when someone is saying one thing and meaning another. Maybe not everyone does. But why don't you just tell her the truth and then figure it out from there, rather than storing up more strain for both of you and your friendship in the future?
I'm sure she would prefer to come over to your town for a coffee with just you at some time that is convenient for both of you and have fun. That's better than have your family all traipse over to hers with faces like thunder when she has (in her eyes) done her best to lay on a nice meal for you and make you feel welcome in her home.
As you can see this kind of thing really winds me up, and its invariably women who do it. Men have many many many faults, but at least they are honest with their friends and tell them what they mean. At least you know where you stand.
Also (and I promise I will shut up after this) - saying yes then cancelling on the day is VERY bad manners in my opinion. She would have bought extra food and drink (for you, DH AND the kids - thats a fair bit of money) and done a tidy up of her house.
How rude to let her do all that for nothing. And for what? Because you won't feel good, won't don't have a fun day, you make it more awkward next time you speak to her. What's the point?
If you have said you will go, you should, or else you shouldn't have said you would. GRRR.
I come at it from the other perspective, having once got it very wrong, & think a gentle easing away would be kindest; family commitments, esp with a 4 month old, would be truthful. You could always invite her to yours for things like riotous children's birthdays & it would probably have the same effect .
You say next week so I would ring up, apologise and tell her "that you can't face that length of journey for lunch now that you have children" I would also counter the invitation to come to you instread perhaps on a day when your dh is at work?
Could you be honest and ask her to come to yours instead. It is possible to be friens with lots of people and as long as she isn't inconveniencing you then you might find that you have a reliable friend who really cares about you even if conversation doesn't flow like with other friends. I am thinking along the lines of duke's advice
thankyou for your advice.
Goodness me, Duke, read your post back! You write as though I'm some sort of rude, inconsiderate person!
FWIW I agree that cancelling at the last minute would be bad manners. I wouldn't dream of doing that.
She does often come to us (at her instigation) and if this falls around a meal time then we will always make a proper meal and have her stay to eat (only right and proper).
The problem is, she invites herself here, then we do a meal, and then she wants to repay the kindness. At no time do we ever invite her here (not that I wouldn't want her here, I'm just busy with the kids and often don't think to invite anyone!).
She is also generous when DD had a birthday, which means I feel duty bound to send her a birthday present and don't really know her well enough to have a clue what to buy!
alison56 - you sound a very polite person. Perhaps you shouldn't be swapping child's b-day present for adult b-day present. We never do. Also, if she drop by then don't make a special effort. Think you can allow her to enjoy your company but make less effort. Best wishes
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